RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017

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326 Digital technologies: Digital methods as influences on research design in geography
Affiliation Digital Geographies Working Group
Convenor(s) Megan Palmer-Abbs (University of Aberdeen, UK)
Gillian Rose (The Open University, UK)
Chair(s) Megan Palmer-Abbs (University of Aberdeen, UK)
Gillian Rose (The Open University, UK)
Timetable Friday 01 September 2017, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Huxley Building, Room 341
Session abstract Digital technologies are changing the world we live in and how we as researchers can interact and view it. These technological changes are enabling a wide range of experiments in research methods. This session invites papers that reflect on the experience of using digital technologies to design new methods, or to significantly modify existing methods, in human geography. The session will explore what kinds of data and analysis are afforded by specific digital technologies, and what these can contribute to producing geographical knowledges.

We are interested in hearing what kind of research questions are developing as a consequence of this evolving digital world. How are researchers utilising new digital technologies (eg smart clothing, cameraphones, crowdsourcing platforms) as research techniques? How is the application of new digital technologies in society steering new approaches to research design? As a result of these activities distinctive ethical issues may also materialise which are of interest. Central to discussion should be how the digital impacts and influences the research rather than a presentation of your research findings. This sessions offers a platform during this exciting time of diversity and dynamics as a consequence of the digital in geography research.
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2017@rgs.org
The Evolution of Research Design - Old Instruments Rethought
Megan Palmer-Abbs (University of Aberdeen, UK)
Scotland has some of the most remote geographies in Europe. Broadband infrastructure in these rural areas has suffered from lack of commercial investment resulting in poor and unreliable online connectivity. Policy intervention through the Broadband UK Programme (BDUK) seeks to improve this situation through deployment of fibre upgrades across the telecommunication network. The impact of fibre broadband on rural businesses is postulated to enable greater business dexterity, through improved digital effectiveness, related innovation, business growth, and productivity. Observing the deployment and diffusion of new digital technologies, such as fibre broadband and associated impacts in rural businesses, presents new challenges for rethinking how we orchestrate research design.
Through the exploration of the Next Generation Broadband deployment across the North East of Scotland, and associated impacts on Rural Small and Micro Businesses, I share how old research instruments can be rethought to explore new phenomena. During this research development of an alternative method to explore rural-digital access was designed. This paper presents and discusses: 1) previous research designs used in exploring ICT diffusion and SMEs; 2) the challenges presented by the research project; and 3) How the research design, by re thinking mixed method approaches, overcame these challenges.
Digitising the body: using biosensing technologies for geographic research
Tess Osborne (University of Birmingham, UK)
With the emergence of digitised health and the quantified-self movement, new technologies have become an increasing part of how people learn about their bodies. From activity trackers and biosensors to personal analytics and smartphone applications, these technologies pose a great opportunity for geographical research. From ethics to questions of power, however, these technologies can produce new dilemmas for geographers to tackle.

With a particular emphasis on biosensing technologies, this paper critically discusses the use of biosensors in geographic research on the body. Biosensing here refers to the practice of using digital technologies to understand the physiological reactions of the body. As such, these technologies enable the measurement and representation of a person’s autonomic reactions to a phenomenon. This paper, using examples from a recent study in three areas of Birmingham (UK), discusses the benefits and issues associated to using biosensors before stressing that such technologies should never be considered an objective truth for embodied events.
WITHDRAWN BY AUTHOR - Freelancers on Facebook: Mining Social Media Data to Understand the Digital Economy
Ana Basiri (University of Southampton, UK)
Annabelle Wilkins (University of Southampton, UK)
Darja Reuschke (University of Southampton, UK)
Markieta Domecka (University of Southampton, UK)
Exploring digital methods for mapping and visualising interpretations of cultural heritage sites
Isabel Williams (Newcastle University, UK)
Digital technologies are profoundly changing the world in which we live, making it increasingly important to consider the opportunities the digital offers to researchers. This paper addresses my own experiences of using digital, particularly mapping, technologies to design new methods capable of representing and communicating people’s experiences of cultural heritage sites. Specifically, the paper explores how both digital and non-digital technologies can be brought together to produce new, innovative ways of presenting qualitative data in visual form. This paper focuses on exploring ways of visualising people’s aesthetic responses to landscape, using data collected through questionnaires at three sites across North East England. These survey responses are manipulated through GIS into various forms of cartographic maps and visual representations, to illustrate and communicate these responses and possible trends. The paper aims to demonstrate how this enrolment of the qualitative with the quantitative, the digital with the non-digital, can be incorporated into a variety of research designs and contribute towards producing new geographical knowledges through visual representations. Further, it highlights some of the challenges facing digital methods, such as the constraints/possibilities of qualitative/quantitative GIS; the task of communicating research beyond the confines of the academy; and distinct ethical issues that may arise.
Digital viewing environments as visual methods of research and practice
Clare Booker (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Landscape and architecture are being increasingly viewed, experienced and represented via mediated technologies and digital viewing environments. A journey through the digital landscape offers us ways to explore the relationship between the actual and virtual, physical and digital, between spaces of reality and fiction. This paper aims to present ways in which these technologies can be used as methods in which to generate process driven outcomes in response to the particular site of the airport. I will present the art projects I am currently working on, which use and simultaneously critique the technologies of Google Earth and Street View. These include responses and engagements through text, image and film as a result of virtual wanderings, where methods of auto ethnography are employed. I will discuss how I move through this digital space, using the navigation controls and behaviours of Google Earth, in conversation with the way we have become used to moving through an actual airport. The paper explores how the experience of viewing and navigating the airport via Google Earth can augment our real experience of these spaces, and asks the question of how this virtual experience may help us re-imagine, disrupt, and change our understanding of the airport.